“Legend” is not a word to be thrown around lightly. According to Merrriam-Webster it means “a famous or important person who is known for doing something.” Well, that definition made me think of a woman who became an actress-singer-director-writer-composer-producer-designer-author-photographer-activist. Phew! Have you guessed which lady the world is ready to call a legend? I’ll give you two hints: number 1, she changed her first name by simply leaving out one letter and, number 2, she refused to change her nose. Now, you’ve got it: Barbra Streisand. She is an original. Not only has Barbra (forgive the familiarity) made her mark in the world for her talent, she’s used her platform for better things (and many philanthropies including a heart center). When her mother told her she should be a secretary because she was not pretty, she had enough belief in herself to fight for what she wanted – to be an actress. A pivotal figure in music she’s always been so different from everybody else around and happily she stayed relevant. Her films are frequently played on television and I never tire of watching them: the endearing “Funny Girl,” her super romantic “The Way We Were,” the cringeworthy mother in “The Fockers,” and her historic “Yentl.” In that last one she was the first woman to write, direct, produce, and star in her own film. To add to all this, of course, is her extraordinary way of putting over a song. Barbra Streisand took risks. It’s quite obvious that she doesn’t stand on the sidelines. When interviewed, she expressed some lessons for us ordinary mortals: “Get involved. It’s your life. It’s your country. It’s your world.” Actually that’s Streisand’s world but with that marvelous voice and her authenticity she makes it better for all of us.
“The Grand Budapest Hotel” opened to rave revues in New York, but not in Bayonne so I had to go to Paramus. Was it worth the trip? Well, I’ll let you know. The film is a comedy-drama set in a mythical central European country during the 1930s. Director Wes Anderson says the film’s script was inspired by an Austrian writer, Stefan Zweig (1881-1942). Here’s a short summary: a very rich woman (Tilda Swinton under a metric ton of old-age make-up) mysteriously dies at the hotel. In her will she leaves a valuable painting to Gustave, her recent lover, who is the hotel’s concierge. Admittedly, it was fun to see Ralph Fiennes commanding, foppishly vain, and alive to the comedy of existence. Gustave is framed for her murder and jailed. His escape and the relentless hunt for him is the subject of the film’s second half. Much of the fun in this movie for me was recognizing an incredible array of talent appearing in supporting parts including Adrien Brody, Jeff Goldblum, F. Murray Abraham, Tom Wilkinson, Judd Law, Edward Norton, Owen Wilson, Bill Murray, and even other famous stars perhaps more difficult to recognize in their costumes and make-up. The prevailing tone is ripely comic – at times downright farcical – but with an undercurrent of panic. “The Grand Budapest Hotel” is filled with hand-crafted effects and wind-up coincidences. There’s a mixture of slapstick, bric-a-brac, and longing. What does it all add up to? Don’t ask me. I would need to see this movie one more time to get it straight but that would require too much effort.
Remember a young Judy Garland singing “You Made Me Love You” to a photograph of Clark Gable? And then there’s Brad Pitt (swoon!) with Angelina Jolie at his side. In that same category of handsome men there’s one who is not only good-looking but also appears to be very intelligent, too. I first laid eyes on George Clooney when he was much younger and appearing on an old sitcom, “Roseanne.” My reaction: boy, is he cute! And he seems to be a pretty good actor too. The 5'11" hunk is also a film director, producer, screen writer, and political activist. His last name makes me remember his handsome dad, Nick, and his aunt Rosemary Clooney, who has always been one of my favorite singers. Currently, it seems de rigueur to make jokes about George Clooney’s marital status and just as many fantasize about having a chance to bring him to the altar. Would you like a picture of this possibility? At Madame Tussauds Wax Museum in Las Vegas there’s a “Marrying George Clooney” photo op in which museum visitors can put on a wedding gown and stand next to a wax statue of the handsome actor in a tuxedo. Perhaps those who do that are influenced by the fact that People magazine has picked him as “Sexiest Man Alive” – not once, but two times. I’ve always enjoyed looking at him but equally enjoyed his acting in many of his films: “Up In The Air,” “The Descendants,” “Argo,” “Gravity.” So even though some use his marriage availability as a running joke the fact is that George Clooney has also served since 2008 as one of the U.N.’s Messengers of Peace. I suggested to my son-in-law who works at the U.N. to look for a man with outstanding good looks and an intelligent brow. If Mike happens to see him to give the actor a hug for me. Silly, huh?
You can e-mail June Sturz at email@example.com